The fallout between France and the Muslim world is growing over the publication of blasphemous sketches and rising Islamophobia. There are now fears of retribution from both sides and collective punishment.
Muslim leaders have condemned and French President Macron including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran, while tens of thousands attended protests in Bangladesh. Malaysia has expressed concerns over the growing open hostilities towards Muslims. The response in the Middle East is rather subdued but there has been a favourable response to the boycott of French products.
The anger has risen after President Macron’s defended blasphemous caricatures. This is not the first time such inflammatory sketches have been published but the endorsement by a world leader has caused outrage. Europe had seen a rise in Islamophobia due to the rise of far-right populist leaders and growing Muslim populations which have lead to systemic oppression and discrimination.
This was followed by an attack on a church in the French city of Nice in which three people were killed and a woman was decapitated. The French government under the garb of freedom of speech and expression has refused to renounce the caricatures and instead decide to tackle ‘Islamic extremism.’ This matter could escalate and lead to a clash of civilizations in Europe.
The strongest criticism has come from Turkish President Erdogan who called out Macron for his attitude towards Islam. Former Malaysian leader Mahathir went a step further by saying Muslims have a right to kill French. This rhetoric and personal insults do not serve any purpose and will create more bitter divisions.
As we mark the auspicious occasion of Eid Milad-un-Nabi, we should remember the teachings of the beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who is a role model for entire humanity. He spread the message of peace and forgave even his bitterest enemies and ended oppression and injustice from the world. We need to spread the message of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) which can heal divisions and make the world a better place.
The West needs to realise that its cherished secular values and freedoms should not impinge religious beliefs. Many European countries have laws against hate speech and Nazi ideology but not against Islamophobia. The world stands divided than ever before and efforts must be made to stop the fallout before the situation worsens.